In yet another summer of prequels, sequels, and reboots we are treated to a reimagining of a well known franchise. After a five year absence, the Bourne series is back with the next installment The Bourne Legacy. Many might mistakenly think that this is a reboot, but it is instead an extension of the existing world. The real question is, with a new director and lead actor can The Bourne Legacy succeed on the same level as the previous films?
Director Paul Greengrass, who directed the prior two films, is out. Instead Tony Gilroy, who helped write all three Bourne scripts, has taken the helm in addition to providing the story. Also actor Matt Damon chose not to reprise his role as Jason Bourne so we are instead introduced to Aaron Cross played by newcomer Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker, Avengers). The cast is rounded out by Rachel Weisz, who plays scientist Dr. Marta Shearing, and Edward Norton, who plays Retired Col. Eric Bryer USAF, trying to track them down.
The basis of the film is the teaser tagline for the movie, “There was never just one”. Taking place at the same time as the end of The Bourne Ultimatum, to the point that scenes from the last movie are spliced in with this one, we are introduced to Aaron Cross as he is completing a training exercise in the Alaskan wilderness. Cross is a participant in Operation Outcome which is an offshoot of Treadstone, the program that produced Jason Bourne, and Blackbriar, the operation that Bourne took down at the end of Ultimatum. The difference is that Treadstone created agents via behavior modification while Outcome created six super-agents through a couple of power enhancing pills; a green pill boosts an agent’s physical capabilities and a blue pill boosts an agent’s IQ. However, since Bourne exposed Blackbriar and Treadstone there is a mad dash to by Col. Bryer to eliminate any loose threads. Cross survives the attempt on his life but is low on pills so he seeks help from Dr. Marta Shearing. Needless to say this leads to some globe hopping as Cross and Shearing attempt to get the pills and evade capture.
I was really hoping that the film would succeed with so many unknowns, but unfortunately it falls flat on many levels. The story pulls you in at first and the intermeshing of the last film with the beginning of this one provides for not only continuity but also lends the movie some credibility. However, as the plot quickly begins to unravel the movie starts to feel like something you have seen before and you cannot help but remember these spliced scenes of a far superior films. Renner is fine as Aaron Cross and provides a suitable replacement for Damon’s Jason Bourne but he just does not have much to do here.
Finally, the action is decent at times, even if it is amped down from Greengrass’s frenetic framing. Gilroy fails to keep any sort of pacing to his movie which leaves you wondering at times how much longer could the film be. The Bourne Legacy leaves room for a possible Bourne/Cross sequel but I can only hope that this is it. The teaser for the movie should have been, There can be only one. Either that or I wish I could take the blue pill and the story would just end.
2 / 5